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...That Knits the Raveled Sleeve of Care

Chapter Text

Trial Run

They'd stalked around each other like two caged Tetrasaurs for more breems than either mech wanted to count. But now their energon levels, sapped by a full orn of heavy battle, an antagonistic spark bond, and the effort of pulling together this ridiculous 'secret hideout,' were so low that it was only a raw testament to their strength of will that both remained upright.

But neither wanted to be first to go offline. Spark-bond or no spark-bond, it was too scary to be helpless in the company of one's worst enemy.

So they paced around the recharge berths, exchanging glares. First one, and then the other would make a show of starting the shut-down process – perhaps lowering himself tensely onto the scarred surface of the one-size-fits-all bunks – only to jump up a moment or two later, as the other mech would make some unexpected movement at the corner of his vision.

Of the two of them, Megatron seemed to be taking it worst. The big Decepticon Commander had no memory of a time when he had trusted anyone. His private quarters had duro-steel-reinforced walls, with trip-switches set to trigger an alarm if they were so much as nudged. It was the way of the Decepticons: those who failed to adequately watch their backs wound up as scrap for the recyclers. Of course he'd never, ever shared a room. To let himself be seen in such a vulnerable state had been unthinkable to him – contrary not only to Decepticon ideals, but also to the self-made barricades around his soul.

Prime, by contrast, was determinedly optimistic of his chances of survival. He was self-sacrificing to a fault, and tended to be willing to trust to others and to hope. He wasn't happy having Megatron there. The presence of his enemy made him jumpy and snappish. But he had paid too much for this detente to give up on the Decepticon now. He'd stay and prove this peace was possible, and in so doing challenge Megatron to do the same. Or – he shrugged inwardly – he'd die trying.

"I have a suggestion," offered Prime. His voice was strained; his servos whined; and heavy smoke was starting to trail greasily out of his shoulder-smokestacks. "I don't think distance is a help to us. We'll both be wondering what tricks the other one is trying to pull." (They'd shoved the recharge platforms up against opposing corners of the chamber, trying to be as far apart as possible, although still trapped in the tiny room.) "Just push that berth into the middle, here" – he pointed – "And I'll bring along the second one."

"The slag I will!" the big Decepticon replied in a hoarse growl that betrayed his growing weariness. "I've done enough trusting for one orn. I don't think I'll be going along with anything else you have to say for quite a while, Optimus Prime."

"Look, Megatron," said Prime, sounding almost as worn out as he felt, "Either we keep up this dance until we fall together in a stasis-locked scrap-pile-" He glared at the Decepticon. "Or we try to preserve some shred of dignity, and handle this like leaders of our factions. What do you say?"

Preserving some part of his dignity sounded good to Megatron, but he'd be smelted before he'd say so. "Humph," he said instead, crossing his arms.

"Here's what I'm thinking," Prime went on, ignoring his old enemy's acerbity. "We'll push the two charge-berths together. Then we'll synch up our chronometers, and start a slow countdown. And on each count, you'll flip the switches on my bunk, and I'll set yours. That way, neither one of us has the chance to cheat the other. Sound fair?" he finished, flashing up a look at Megatron through optics dimmed by weariness.

The gray mech thought it over for a klik or two. But even as he stood there, he could feel his body grinding to a halt. "All right, you smelter-spawned, lube-sucking glitch," he huffed in resignation.

The two mechs pushed the heavy berths together in the middle of the room. Then with excruciating caution, they sat down in deadly proximity.

"All right," said Prime. "Step one. Connect the main charge cord to input panel. Here." He unwound a thick brown cable out from underneath the berth, and handed it to Megatron. The gray mech gave him a black look, but did the same. "Three... two... one..." said Prime, and simultaneously, the two bots jammed the plug-ends into couplings beneath each other's paneling.

"Right," growled Megatron. "Now for the power switch." He reached down between the two berths to a round green button on the side of Optimus's platform. The red Autobot followed suit. In a grim snarl, the Decepticon growled out the countdown: "Prime... is... a..." A sudden hum obscured the last word that he used, as two chargers roared to life in unison. But that was probably for the best.

Now for the tricky part. "Don't you dare try to cheat me!" warned the fierce Decepticon. Gingerly, each mech opened up his armaments, granting his erstwhile arch-enemy access to his inward workings.

They glared at one another, moving with exaggerated care. Both knew a single slip would set the other leaping to his own defense, and they would have to start this whole ridiculous game over from the beginning. When both had found their opposite's manual shut-off switch, they began the final countdown. Optimus began, a bit facetiously, "Till... all... are..."

He never made it to the last word. For both mechs fell together with a clang onto the recharge bunks, an awkward tangled heap of limbs, insensible to anything for the following three joors.